Paleo Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

Apr 4, 2012 by

When I get sick, all I want is soup. Usually I have plenty of stock and/or frozen soup on hand but sometimes I send Mike out to fetch me some Tom Kha Gai from our favorite Thai place. (Note: I am the worst sick person ever and I feel like he deserves a medal each time because I would just punch me in the face.) This creamy, sweet, spicy chicken soup always makes me feel better – the spice loosens my stuffed nose and the warm, rich coconut milk warms me up.

Today I am not sick, but as I go through this 21-day sugar detox, I am in the WOE IS ME stage where everything looks like a piece of chocolate and WHAT IS THAT IN YOUR PANTS? ARE YOU HIDING GHIRARDELLI?!?! So I picked up the ingredients to make this – some of which most “Paleo” households will have on hand. I admit, I had no idea where to start really because every recipe is different. Some call for lime juice, others do not. Some use the entire lemongrass stalk  and steep it in the soup for a long time, which I’m sure is the most accurate traditional way to make it. I don’t claim to have any vast Thai ethnic cooking knowledge and to be honest, I went the easy quick route with most of the ingredients. Mike was working late, the kids were feral, and I was HONGRAY. If you’re interested in learning the traditional way to cook it, this is an amazing tutorial post.

I bought this fresh lemongrass paste as well as fresh organic ginger puree, as you can see in the picture below. I am lucky that my local store carries a wide variety of ingredients like this, most organic and all the same as fresh. I have an entire shelf of my fridge for these – along with many freeze-dried herbs.  They make having ingredients on hand for almost any recipe easy and they last a long time, rather than the 1/2 package of fresh herbs that go bad and I find them in the back of the fridge in a pile of slimy goo. They’re definitely worth the money in my opinion. The other ingredients were readily available in the Asian section of a regular supermarket, nothing fancy needed here.

The soup came together fast (but there is some decent simmer time) and I tasted and added this and that until the taste was perfect. I like a little spice but not too much so you can adjust the amount of red chili paste that you use based on your preference. I used around 4-5 cups of sliced chicken which was four-five small (the free-range chickens are smaller) breasts or 2-3 large ones. You can’t really mess up the amount of meat. Traditionally, this also will have mushrooms in it but I am not a fan of things that taste like worms, so I skipped on those. Feel free to add them in.


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  1. I am personally thanking you for this – I never knew the traditional name for the soup, so we’ve always just referred to it as coconut soup, but it’s TOTALLY my sick-food too. Every recipe I’ve found had 15-30 ingredients and took eight hours. This is doable! YAY!!

  2. I cannot wait to try this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing the tip about getting the lemongrass and ginger pastes. So practical!

  3. This looks yummy and easy…

  4. Made this last night. We like worms in our house, so added a can of stir-fry mushrooms. Non-primal folks ate with a scoop of rice. Topped it off with a sqeeze of fresh lime juice just before serving. We loved this so hard, we could barely allow left-overs to happen. Awesome recipe.

    • AndreAnna

      ha, worms! LOL I’m glad it went over well. I think I’m making it for a Paleo potluck this weekend so I’m glad to hear it’s going over well for the masses!! :)

  5. Jamie

    I made this last night and loved it! I always get this when we go out for Thai and now I can have it anytime. I’m currently easing myself into a Paleo diet (read: I’m still trying to forget about the pizza and cake I ate at a kid’s birthday party on Sunday). I have two autoimmune diseases that have been flaring so I’ve turned to a change in diet in the hopes of getting a handle on them both. I love your website and can’t wait to try more recipes. Your stories and anecdotes literally make me LOL. I was sent to your site by a mutual friend in Philly (Brian B.). Thanks for a great site, recipes and the laughs!

  6. Patti

    Made this tonight and the more I ate, the more I liked it. I think I had three servings. SO YUMMY!


    Would this be OK for a paleo dieter using paleo for weightloss?


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